Konfession and Konfessionalisierung in Europa. Der Stand der Diskussion

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Wolfgang Reinhard

WOLFGANG REINHARD, Felekezet és felekezetszerveződés Európában. A tudományos diskurzus fejleményei [Konfession und Konfessionalisierung in Europa. Der Stand der Diskussion] (CST III/1) (transl. in Hungarian by András Forgó; ed. by Péter Tusor), Budapest 2017. 32 p.

The study of Wolfgang Reinhard  is published here at first time, and in Hungarian translation. Between 1977 and 2010 the author had already written six studies regarding confessionalisation. He had also given his ideas much consideration and reacted to multiple criticisms. In his 1977 work, he pointed out that in parallel with the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic “Counter-Reformation” had also contributed to the modernization of European society. In 1981, to mark the jubilee of the Augustan Confession (Confessio Augustana) in the previous year, he readdressed the topic by going back to Ernst Walter Zeeden’s idea of the “age of confessionalisation”. The Counter-Reformation is not mentioned here as one of the stages of the three-stage dialectic model (reformation/counter-reformation/confrontation), but is examined in parallel with other confessions which occurred in the 1500’s (German Lutheran – Mediterranean Tridentine Catholic – Swiss Calvinist – Anglican). He also analysed these confessions’ spiritual, mental and social modernizing role that indicated the same direction.

Wolfgang Reinhard analysed the confessionalisation not only in the context of the German territorial churches: he also covered France and Italy in his research. He suggested that he had demonstrated in 2010 how the new confessions had been established and determined themselves; why the viable ones could survive and many other initiatives had disappeared (like that of the Anabaptists, Anti-Trinitarians), or been confined to the periphery.

In the second half of his paper, Wolfgang Reinhard addressed the latest criticism his idea received; he also reviewed his model in terms of cultural anthropology. He outlined the existence of the inter- and trans-confessional phenomena, however, he immediately added that these are exceptional cases, they do not imply the refutation of the whole thesis.

According to the final conclusion of the author, the model of confessionalisation – which proved to be a relevant and developing paradigm in the recognition and comprehension of European history – values the religious processes of the early modern period not in terms of historical action/counteraction, but the parallelism of modernisation.